Dreams in sport can be chased for years without any end result. A footballer’s dreams might feature playing in a World Cup final; tennis players often picture themselves on the centre court at Wimbledon; whereas for motor racing drivers it’s the adrenaline rush of turning yet another corner at the famous Monte Carlo circuit.
However, to call yourself an Olympian is something else — that little bit extra that sets you apart from the rest. The gruelling daily training sessions are needed just to qualify for warm-up events, let alone to represent your country on the grand stage.
The Olympic Games and the global circus that follows will arrive in London in 2012 and is a perfect opportunity for the nation’s athletes to fly the flag for Great Britain. Competition for places adds extra pressure to athletes attempting to qualify as a second, metre, or point could mean the difference between representing Team GB or letting years worth of training go to waste.
Matthew Bowser, a highly successful runner who competes across the board in running disciplines, opting for 5,000 metres to be his favourite, is currently in training for the World Championships.
However, last year’s Lincoln 10k winner is hoping that with the help of a new coach he will be encouraged to work hard to improve his chances of achieving a place on Team GB — with the London 2012 Olympics etched very strongly in his mind.
“This year on the track I lowered all of my PBs which enabled me to go to the National Championships. I got selected for England to run abroad in a couple of races.
“To get in the Grand Prixs all around the world my times will have to drop a few seconds and that’s what we’re looking to do this year.
“The Olympics is obviously the gold event [and] it’s going to be in London. For me, I’ll be 29 and at my peak for 1500m at that age and I just think it would be amazing to make an Olympic final,” Bowser said.
In the past year, Bowser has acquired a new coach who takes a lot of the strain and stress off his back leaving him to concentrate on one thing only — running the best he possibly can.
The Lincoln Wellington runner said: “I’ve been sitting down with my coach and I think a lot of my problems have been psychological. I kind of get in a race and say ‘I’m going to try and run this time’ and forget that you’re actually racing the guys in front of you.
“We’re working on it a little bit more, surrounding the area that we are actually going to win races instead of getting in a race and seeing what position you come in.
“I’ve been able to run top 20 in the country without the help of anyone, so putting the work in should hopefully leave me in the top five or six in Britain, that’s the main aim. I want to make the Olympics, I want to make the Commonwealth games.”
All of the true running greats such as Haile Gabrselassie, Kenenisa Bekele and Sebastian Coe have all stressed that having a strong, winning mentality is crucial to achieve great successes.
The 26-year-old also follows this same viewpoint and believes your mindset can be the difference between winning a race or finishing 2nd.
“You can have all of the ability in the world, but if you’ve not got the right mindset for it, it doesn’t matter how good you are.
“I used to know people who would talk themselves out of a race even before they’ve got to the start line. It’s a great weapon to have to use against someone, as you can knock someone and go ‘I’m training great’ and you can see them getting nervous.
“As an athlete you’ve got to channel that energy into the performance rather than worrying about what someone else is going to do. I’ve not seen a sports psychologist, but the moment you’ve got a losing mentality it’s difficult to get off it.”
He said: “I go with the Lincolnshire Sports Partnership to go and help schools. You put the Great Britain kit on and the kids love seeing it, but kids are taught not to be competitive because the people who are unable to do the sports are left out. Well, I’m not being funny, but we live in a competitive society and when I was young I used to love beating everybody.
“If kids aren’t taught a winning mentality from a young age they aren’t going to be competitive in anything they do.
“There are loads of facilities. Up at our track now [Yarborough School] we’ve got a kids starter day so they come up on a Tuesday at six o’clock and basically they can have a bit of coaching. It’s all light-hearted and good fun with a little bit of competitiveness.”Tweet